History GCSE / National 5: How women fought for sexual and social equality in the 20th century

Gemma Cairney finds out how women have campaigned for sexual equality in Britain.

One hundred years ago women with illegitimate children could be placed in a mental institution.

Attitudes towards women in society changed and women enjoyed more social and sexual freedom after World War Two.

Feminism and the women’s liberation movement became more prominent in the 1960s and 1970s.

Feminist campaigner Sally Alexander describes campaigning against the Miss World competition and protester Anastasia Richardson talks about organising the London 'slut walks' in 2011 to protest against sexual harassment.

Please note, this series was originally broadcast in 2013 and all information was correct at the time of recording. However, you will need to update your class with the latest facts. For example, there are now more female MPs than in 2013.

Teacher Notes

After watching this short film, you could ask your students to debate whether it is right to judge people by the way they look.

You could provide students with a series of photographs of women over the last seventy years (including suffragettes, CND protestors, Women's Lib activists and suited businesswomen) and ask what we can deduce about these women.

Students could then be divided into groups to research one of the women in their photograph. Place the information gathered on a timeline of change. Students should consider how far attitudes have changed towards these women in their research.

Curriculum Notes

This short film is suitable for teaching secondary history. This topic appears in OCR, Edexcel, AQA, Eduqas, WJEC KS4/GCSE in England and Wales, CCEA GCSE in Northern Ireland and SQA National 4/5 in Scotland.

More from 100 years of the women's movement

How suffragettes won women the vote and changed politics
How women fought for access to birth control in Britain
How women in Britain fought for equality in the workplace